Scott A. Hodge [above] doesn’t have a strong opinion on the NRA’s post-Sandy Hook recommendation to put cops into every school in the country. Hodge’s only concern: who’s going to pay for it? If nothing else, Taxing Guns to Pay for Cops in Classrooms? taught me the official name for a tax designed to limit indirect societal costs from a given activity (a.k.a., “negative externalities”). It’s called a Pigouvian tax. The University of Illinois grad wants it applied to guns. Just one or two leetle problems, though . . .

The poli-sci major turned economist figures that putting cops into schools will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $6.6 billion. Annually. One wonders where the money might come from.

As a thought experiment, one option [to pay for cops in classrooms] would be to levy a “Peguvian”[sic] tax on guns in the same way we put excise taxes on tobacco or pollution as a means of offsetting the externalities that they impose on society. The challenge of these types of taxes is setting the tax rate at a level roughly equal to the cost it places on society.

No, the challenge is to figure out how much the sheep should pony up to pay for the sheepdogs. As I have pointed out before (see my rebuttal of Fact #9 here) more than twice as many lives are saved annually in DGUs as are lost to CGUs. That’s what I meant by positive externalities.

There’s also the fact that 62.1% of peer reviewed studies published by economists and criminologists show that “shall-issue” permit laws actually reduce violent crime in the jurisdiction.

[For the sake of completeness I should probably mention that 34.5% of those studies show no effect (i.e. no negative externality) and only 3.4% (one out of 29 studies) show a slight, temporary increase in one type of crime.]

Scott admits that it can be tricky to calculate these things. He goes on to take a S.W.A.G. at it anyway:

Well, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation some 10.8 million firearms were purchased in 2011. So if we divide the $6.64 billion cost of 98,817 police officers by 10.8 million (we’ll ignore the private schools for the sake of this example), we get an excise tax of $615 for every new firearm purchased in America.

This is clearly a hefty tax to put on each firearm sold every year. But if the goal is to internalize the cost of protecting schools to the source of the danger, this is roughly what it would cost to do so. The other option is to shift the cost to all taxpayers, even those who may never own a gun.

No Scott, a tax of $615 per gun isn’t something you do to “internalize the cost of protecting schools.” It’s something you do to effectively ban guns without actually banning them.

Especially since firearms are not “the source of the danger” any more than box-cutters were the source of the danger on 9/11 or a buck’s worth of gasoline was the source of the danger in the Happy Land fire.

The source of the danger, just like Soylent Green, is people. At Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, at McDonald’s in San Ysidro, at the Civic Association in Binghamton, at Columbine, at VA Tech, Fort Hood, Aurora, and Sandy Hook; at all of these places it was deranged people who set out to commit mass murder.

And oddly enough, at all of these places the victims were disarmed for the convenience of their murderer.

But here’s a question: why do we need to hire cops (or anyone) to do this? According to the GAO there are eight million people licensed to carry concealed in the U.S. (this doesn’t count the Constitutional carry states, WY, VT and AZ). There have to be plenty who already work for schools and would be willing to carry.

Furthermore, I’m betting that if the school board kicked in for the cost of a permit class and up to, say, $500 for a pistol you’d have a lot of people without permits willing to volunteer to get one. Throw in a few hours of school-specific training and voilà; you have an incident reaction force instead of a bunch of bullet catchers.

As for the cost, a permit class, the application fee, $500 towards a gun, a few thousand rounds training ammo; let’s call it $1500 per person. Let’s go really big and assume that you have an average of 10 volunteers per school; that will give you a one-time cost of $15,000 per school instead of an annual cost of $67,242 per cop.

Hell, for most districts that’s less than the rounding error from their textbook budget. Throw in ongoing costs of $2,000 a year for training ammo and a refresher seminar  (which you can raise from a single bake sale) and you have an extremely economical alternative to a cop in each school.

“But wait,” I hear from a plaintive anti-gunner in the back of the room. “What about places like New York City, Chicago, Hawaii and San Francisco that are dedicated to reducing gun violence?”

Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but fuck ‘em; they’ve made their bed, let them lie in it and suck up the “negative externalities” of denying people the natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right to own and carry the weapon of their choice.

Common sense, no?

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54 Responses to Tax Guns?

  1. Tax guns? No lets tax non gun owners, if one spends their time trying to destroy the 2nd Amendment hiding behind the 1st, then lets tax their speech.

  2. wasn’t their a court decision on taxing a constitutional right? Murdock v PA

    The Court recognized the need of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to sustain themselves. Though the organization solicited donations in their distribution of literature, “freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion are available to all, not merely to those who can pay their own way.”

    Just sayin, not like it matters 🙂

    • The NFA is a taxing statute, and the $200 tax was set at the approximate cost of a new automatic weapon, i.e., a 100% tax. This was done specifically to avoid the 2A issue. Until you overturn the government’s authority to tax under the NFA, overturning a similar tax on handguns (or even firearms in general) will be difficult.

    • poll taxes were judged to be ok, so they made the 24th amendment. that only applied to the Federal govt, but then another court decision said it applied to all levels of govt.

    • actually, a poll tax such as you only vote if you are a payer of income tax, wouldn’t be too much of a bad thing. Only people with ‘skin in the game’ would be able to decide where the ‘skin’ goes. That would solve the 51% net tax recipient black hole that we are falling into.

      I would actually prefer to only have ‘write-in’ votes. No names on the ballot. If you don’t know by memory who you are voting for, you haven’t done your homework. If you don’t do your homework, you shouldn’t be voting.

      Carry on.

      • Wait, you can’t nuke Washington D.C.! That would solve all are problems, which is too convenient!

        Seriously, we need to reform the government from the bloated inefficient dead weight it is to an effective machine that serves the people, not vice versa. These antis are the proof of it.

  3. Because the gas tax has done wonders to keep roads and bridges in tip top shape and its not like the tobacco taxes are actually used as was intended to offset health costs – nope they end up in the general fund.

    Taxes are most effective in reducing something- they are rarely effective in making something better because their purpose is always reallocated to something else.

    I guess we should not be surprised that something so I’ll conceived comes from a poly-science graduate of Illinois

  4. How about a Pigouvian tax on fire extinguishers to pay for firefighters?

    A tax on cars to pay for drunk drivers?

    Tax condoms to pay for abortions. Tax aspirin to pay for the war on drugs. Tax farmers to pay to fight obesity. Tax tanning beds to pay for “free” birth control. Tax property to pay for teachers. Tax labor to pay for unemployment benefits…

    All makes sense to a liberal. The cost of putting a kid through a year of public school has doubled in the last decade – some places it costs $25,000 per kid per year – how are they supposed to come up with more money after they’ve squandered every penny they can squeeze out of you already?

  5. Want to combat this? If anybody lives in the area (or not)
    circulate a petition to allow volunteers to police the schools.
    Add them to the school insurance for liability if you want
    but don’t pay them. Restrict the volunteers to retired LEOs
    and military. I’m sure you’d still have to turn people away.
    It may not do much, but it might dampen some of the
    economic argument BS about putting cops in schools.

    • I would also throw in parents of current students as possible volunteers. But both parents must approve so that way no one can us the “divorced parent going crazy” line. The other parent must vouch for the volunteer.

  6. Its getting very old hating on NYC or Cali. There are a lot of people that live in these places that are supporters of 2A but we are outnumbered. If i was on my own i would be living in VT or AZ and either ski or tan but due to family obligations i spend half my time between NYC and the Bay Area. So instead of bashing all the time there should be support trying to figure out how to change things.

  7. -Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but fuck ‘em; they’ve made their bed, let them lie in it and suck up the “negative externalities” of denying people the natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right to own and carry the weapon of their choice.-

    Thank you. Enough pussyfooting and trying to “look good” to the enemies of liberty and those that would do us harm. This is the attitude to have.

  8. I think schools could get armed, ready to go, volunteers for free. I have carry permits from several states, (though I can only carry 24×7 outside of my home state of NY)…I would pay for whatever class they wanted me to take and take whatever certification was required if it meant that I could concealed carry on my kids’ school grounds. I am the very last person to look for a fight, downright meek, but some looser shooting at kids and teachers would erase all the moral dilemmas associated with self-defense in a hurry…..

  9. People don’t understand how this “rights” thing works. We all have the right to do as we’re told, because it’s good for all the little sheep who are afraid to run their own life. That MORON in ny doesn’t want anyone drinking large sugary drinks because it’s bad for society. He also hates guns unless they’re being used to protect him or his bunch of cowards who all know what’s best for the rest of us. We’re all screwed and no one (I should say most people) seems to give a shit. I wish Jefferson were alive today because he’d be the first to do something about the mess we’ve allowed our country to become.

  10. Arm teachers who are willing and then there is no need to pay anyone at additional expense. Under that theory the only thing that the school may pay for is a couple of long guns in the office and a safe to secure them.

    If teachers dont want to be armed or the school/municipality wants someone other than teachers thats a simple solution, its a public school therfore the taxpayers AS A WHOLE should be responsible.

    Private school? Well people already shell out big bucks for thoes places. I want ALL kids to have equal safety but thoes schools can afford it

  11. Mr. Krafft,
    I agree wholeheartedly. Just as in WWII when the miltia guarded resivoirs, powerplants, etc., plenty of daddies, granddads, and those who hope to be would step forward at our own expense and stand guard in the schools. All we need are state statutes making it okay for employers to let us be absent on our duty days. I’ll bet there’d be enough volunteers that they’d need to show up only one day a month in a 9-month school year.
    It may be overkill(pardon the expression) but ideally I’d like to have 2 concealed carriers inside and two rifle-armed dads outside,as the Israelis do. They could use store-brand cheap walkie-talkies or their cell phones to coordinate and provide their own weapons. Result:zero cost to the school system, actual security, and peace of mind for all except the statists would be appalled to see people solving things for themselves and the 2d amendment working as it’s supposed to.

  12. I, for one, would be glad to get a gun-toting subsidy from my college. Ammunition, training, possibly a special gun just for my classroom–I like it. If the budget is tight, that’s o.k., since I already have carry guns and a license. In fact, it’d be a sacrifice, but as long as it’s made legal, I’ll carry for free. I’ll even pay my own costs.

    Deal?

  13. I think the “But how will we pay for it?” trope is a bit of misdirection who want to keep the focus on gun bans. And unfortunately, I think the NRA played into it by suggesting there be armed guards in every school.

    The idea that was gaining ground in the week before the NRA stepped up to the stage was that citizens who work in and around schools who are capable of obtaining the appropriate license and training should be allowed to voluntarily carry in the course of their daily duties, so that if a madman breaks into the school some percentage of the staff would be immediately available to stop him. This would cost little or nothing, and some of that cost might even be borne by the teachers themselves.

    The NRA suggested that armed guards be posted, which is not ideal because it places one identifiable person as the only threat the shooter must face. Like society at large, when any of the staff might be carrying, the risk can’t be calculated by the shooter.

    I also think this idea is abhorrent to the guncontrollers because public schools are bastions of “guns are bad” thinking. The last thing they want is to icons of responsible gun ownership in front of impressionable children.

  14. I’m confused. Shouldn’t the tax burden for protection fall to those that use the service. Seems to me that a gun owner is being proactive and therefore exempt in many cases from the tax.

    This whole premise is flawed as it is based on the erroneous assertion that more guns mean less safety. Therefore concluding the people making us unsafe (gun owners) need to pay for the rest’s increased security.

    Garbage in, garbage out.

  15. I see all these comments about volunteers, retired LEO/military, teachers, etc., and they all one glaring flaw. the fact is that the liberals don’t trust the citizenry; that’s why they want us disarmed in the first place.

    The are perfectly happy to demonize the millions upon millions of law abiding FELLOW AMERICAN CITIZENS, your mother, Bill’s uncle, my wife, Tom’s sister for one simple reason: they don’t see us as their fellows. Fellow implies equals and we are most certainly not the equals of the liberals. They are far superior and by right we ought to simply follow their guidance because it will be good for us.

    And oh yes, I’m retired, a law abiding citizen and would volunteer to provide protection at the local elementary school a couple of days a month in a heart beat. But its not going to happen so I don’t have to think much about it.

  16. Here’s a crazy ass idea – if parents want their beloved poop machines to be safer, they should be willing to pay to help make them safer. All of this whining is merely them finally admitting that their kid isn’t really as precious to them as they claim it is.

  17. “Furthermore, I’m betting that if the school board kicked in for the cost of a permit class and up to, say, $500 for a pistol you’d have a lot of people without permits willing to volunteer to get one. Throw in a few hours of school-specific training and voilà; you have an incident reaction force instead of a bunch of bullet catchers.”
    I don’t want a bunch of George Zimmermans at my kids’ school.

    • So your kids school will be protected by signs banning guns? I see a lot of proposals to ban or regulate guns to protect the kids. With 300+ million guns already out there these new laws, providing they can be passed, will maybe have an effect on the threat in 40-60 years. If they have an effect.

      I own guns that are older than me and have fired 60+ year old ammo in them. I don’t know where your kids go to school WC, but my grandkids start back to school tomorrow. None of these proposals of regulating guns will will increase the safety of your kids school.

      At this point in our history the only thing we can do that will have an immediate effect on the safety of our kids is to put armed personnel on school grounds. Anything less is simply setting up the next disaster.

      • I might trust a staff member (principal, etc.) to have access to a weapon, but not a one shift a month volunteer. The elementary school organized shifts of parents to watch the school entrance during school hours a few years ago. They worked in pairs and carried walkie-talkies to alert the office and phones to call 911. So if there were any George Zimmerman types signing up to patrol the school, they could be helpful by alerting authorities, but not lethal to unarmed teenagers.
        Our town has seen four gun uses in the last 10 years. One was accidental, and took off part of the owner’s hand. One was a Valentine’s Day suicide. One was a wife shooting her cheating husband. And the last was an escalation of a boundary dispute between neighbors into a double homocide. So our town has a problem with overly emotional people grabbing a handy gun and hurting people they know. I’m sure we’re not the only town like that.

      • WC, so you’d rather make it easy on the Lanza’s than risk a Zimmerman? And you have kids in the school? It’s easy to see now that you simply have no concept of protecting the kids. You simply want to feel good about spinning your wheels and telling people you’re trying to get rid of those “evil guns”.

        Guns won’t be banned and the schools will still be unprotected. Now that I know what you are I’ll try not to waste my time addressing you in the future.

    • You don’t want an adult to defend against lethal force from some punk kid with an attitude wanting to hurt people?

      Apparently you don’t love your kids very much.

  18. Armed volunteers, trained and certified, in every school.
    Any parent who doesn’t want armed security for their children can take them out and send them somewhere else.
    Not to be callous but putting 599 kids in danger because #600’s mommy and daddy are scared is horseshit feel good that does absolutely squat for keeping the kids safe.

    • Based on literally everything the NRA has said so far I’ve got to disagree with you.
      When you’re talking about the lobby that defends and represents the rights of American firearms owners then it’s what they actually say and not what we’d like to think they’re thinking that matters. The NRA has been very clear on this. Police. Failing that those moronic shields.
      It doesn’t really matter then whether they (the NRA) just doesn’t think they can win the battle for armed teachers and is therefore compromising or whether they lack the chutzpah to get armed teachers pushed through or to eliminate gun free zones because what they are currently staking their and our money and political capital on is the idea of riot shields and paid cops.
      This just isn’t an issue where we can afford to rely on the subtext or on the NRA having some Machiavellian master-plan. In other words in this case the smoke isn’t smoke it’s unfortunately just plain old fog.

  19. I am a Father of school aged children.
    I am the husband of a teacher
    I am at the schools all the time.
    I completed police academy in the 1990’s
    I would carry every day.
    1 down

  20. There is a HUGE difference between cops and ARMED GUARDS. Cops are responsible for hundreds of different types of varying tasks such as drunk driving protocol, domestic violence, traffic violations, criminal investigation, etc..etc…etc…
    Armed guards would be less than 1/4 the pay because they will do 1/10 the amount.
    You are trained on how to handle a gun in different school instances and what to look out for regarding potential threats.

  21. This thought-exercise highlights the real problem here paying for our LEO’s. Half the reason that unelected LEO’s are at best woefully inadequate under most circumstances is because the government already lacks the ability to provide funs to adequately train, staff and equip law enforcement throughout our country.

    The obvious solution to defray these costs is to offer incentives to private citizens who wish to carry either concealed or openly to do so. How about a tax break for citizens with a concealed carry permit who voluntarily, at their own expense, attend a 40 hour course of training administered by their local law enforcement?

    I’m not suggesting this as a Bar to ownership of a firearm or obtainment of a CCP but simply as an OPTION. How many of you here on this site would give your right arm for the opportunity to attend one of the SIG courses but lack the means to travel there and then pay hundreds of dollars for the training? What if instead that training took place twenty minutes from your home and cost the price of ammo? How many of you would line up right now to take that class? I certainly would.

    In my experience the majority of individuals who own firearms, particularly those that have concealed carry permits actively seek training and range time. My county Sheriff already encourages people to make use of the department’s range as long as they take all directions from the tower, provide their own ammo and clean up after themselves.

    Why not offer classes and encourage citizens to actively participate in enforcing the law. Instill them with the training and ability to make good decisions and recognize and report or intervene should they encounter the worst possible situation. Consider the side benefits of this, an improved relationship between the police offices of this country and their civilian counterparts, reduced antagonism all around.

    Just my two cents but how about we all work together to develop a little mutual trust and respect so that our nation can become safer?

    • Love this idea! Why don’t more PD’s do things like this. If I was a Police chief and wanted to lower the crime rate in my jurisdiction, I would be holding monthly meetings and free training sessions for my citizenry. Think about it, you could potentially “deputize” a significant percentage of the population, FOR FREE! I guess the problem is that most places with shall issue or constitutional carry already have low crime. lol

  22. McBane likes this jamoke’s idea, except for taxing gun owners, we should tax the mentally ill. It seems the mentally ill are responsible for these horrific spree killings, so it would only make sense that they pay for the security required to stop it.

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